The short version of the Washington Post ombudsman’s take on the paper’s coverage of George Allen: He gave us an opening, we beat him up. Then he didn’t cooperate with us, so we beat him up some more.
Allen supporters think he can’t catch a break; I sympathize. The macaca coverage went on too long, and a profile of Allen was relentlessly negative without balancing coverage of what made him a popular governor and senator. But it must be remembered that Allen shot himself in both feet with the “macaca” remark and his clumsy handling of the revelation of his Jewish heritage. Then he declined to talk to The Post for the profile. The profiles of both Webb and Allen were critical, but Webb’s was leavened by his quotes.
It was bothersome that so much weight was given to “Fifth Quarter,” the 2000 family memoir by Allen’s sister, Jennifer. The book described family problems and portrayed Allen as a teenage bully. She called it a “novelization of the past,” and Post reporters were unsuccessful in corroborating her account. Except for one brief remark, neither Jennifer Allen nor her brothers would comment on it.